This project was developed in two phases: the creation of the game and the development of an open source teaching material based on the game. The game creation phase was offered to English master's students in an optional seminar. The seminar in this form was the one and only occurrence of this course format since it does not make sense to repeat the game creation phase.
During this seminar, the teachers delivered the theoretical content by condensing it over a period of 4 weeks. They decided to deliver the essential theory in a classical format and to bring in the secondary concepts when the students felt the need to do so during the creation of the game. During the rest of the semester, students met weekly in person to make progress on the project and could also request meetings in small working groups with the teachers.
At the end of the theory sessions, the teachers presented the students with an existing board game, the popular "Who is this?" and asked them to create a "linguistic" version of it. The resulting product is a game, to be used as a teaching tool for the presentation of the theoretical concepts presented in the previous sessions. The students are asked to work in groups with well-defined roles.
The game produced is an adaptation of the guessing game. In the language version of the game, players must guess a mystery language instead of a character as in the original game. The mystery language is revealed by looking for properties that uniquely identify the composition of that language such as, for example, certain elements of the lexicon, or the order in which identified syntactic constituents such as subject, verb, and object are placed in a simple sentence, or morphological properties such as the type of marking used to express the future tense. The cards thus present only those properties that are validated for the language in question. The game thus familiarizes the players with notions from different areas of linguistics: morphology, syntax, lexicon, and illustrates in a playful way the idea that the diversity of languages can be reduced to a set of variation points.
Following its theoretical development, the students met with FacLab students to create the physical prototype of the game "Guess the Language! The mission of the Faclab is precisely to bring the university community closer to the process of making ideas or objects. The digital version of the game was coded by two computer science students in close collaboration with English majors and based on this first wooden prototype.
In the digital version, the interface offers access to a glossary that explains all the terms present in the game as well as to a feature list that presents all the languages of the game as well as all their properties in the form of a 2 entry table. The crossings in the table indicate whether a property applies to a language (green cross) or not (red cross).
In the last class session, students are invited to present the developed solution publicly in front of the computer science students who helped them and the members of Upskills. The evaluation format of the course depends on the student. It can be done in the form of a written report (finding the specific properties of a given language) or an oral exam (developing an aspect of the project, a problem encountered and the proposed solutions).
The course, led by the same teachers next fall, will be built around the game. It will offer students the possibility to add a language, a property and have access to the code to modify it if they wish by changing the defined fields. While acquiring knowledge in linguistics, students will be familiar with computer coding and will be able to find their way around. This course will be evaluated in the form of a research project as well as mandatory activities in Moodle.